I dunno. Although this Associated Press news item, Mowing Proposal Gets Girl (see below), I found on CNN.com is written in a kinda upbeat manner, it seems just sad to me.
OK, it also seems a little funny to me — but I’m not proud of that.
First, the title, Mowing Proposal Gets Girl is misleading. I, for one, was looking forward to savoring a enchanting, romantic tale revolving around a scene that might have gone something like this:
Youthful, Industrious Lad (seated atop a shiny Snapper Fast Cut Zero Turn Riding Mower): “Sir, I’ll mow your yard for $12.
Wizened Galoot (seated on a rocking chair perched on the front porch of an aging but well maintained home): “Son, times are tough, and I don’t have $12. But if you do a good job on the lawn, I’ll give you my daughter, Barbara Jean.”
Love, Hilarity, & Amorous Hijinks ensue …
Turns out, this was a Marriage proposal, not a Mowing proposal. While that kind of mistake is understandable, doesn’t the AP or CNN have fact-checkers and proofreaders for this sort of thing? Or is this distorted headline another example of the kind of intentional sensationalism that has become rampant in journalism? But I digress.
In the story (in red) below, I’ve inserted annotations (in black italics) clarifying primary motifs.
Mowing Proposal Gets Girl
Hillsboro, North Dakota (AP) — It’s the thought that counts when it comes to a marriage proposal.
Chris Mueller, 25, was nearly finished etching the big question into a harvested soybean field when he realized the ‘m’ in ‘marry’ took up too much room.
Since he couldn’t erase a plowed field, he had a decision to make.
Unfortunately, as we’ll shortly see, that decision was not “Do I keep wasting time with this idiotic project, especially now that I’ve revealed myself to be incompetent, or do I take this opportunity to bail out now?” Also, it’s been a while since I lived on a farm, but that field (see graphic) doesn’t look plowed to me. Maybe it was Chris who was plowed. Further, “You can’t erase a plowed field,” not only has the resonance of a classic rustic aphorism but also the error-presented-as-folksy-wisdom qualilty that is the sine qua non of such maxims. Tell you what, you pull a 6′ harrow over that portion of the field a couple of times and see if those letters aren’t erased.
“I figured it would look better to spell it wrong and get a laugh out of it, rather than botch it all,” Mueller told the Grand Forks Herald.
A. Bizarre Belief #1: Misspellings are somehow funny in the “laughing with you” way rather than “laughing at you” way
B. Bizarre Belief #2: A misspelling carved in huge letters in a field isn’t already pretty darned botched
“I could have fit all the letters in, but it would have looked tacky.”
(Incredibly) Bizarre Belief #3: That the unremediated version of this project (see graphic ) doesn’t qualify — even in North Dakota — as “tacky”
Instead, it read: “KATIE WILL YOU MARY ME?”
Mueller’s next step involved taking his girlfriend, Katie Goltz, for an airplane ride under the guise of looking for deer. At first, she missed the misspelling. Goltz was caught up in the message.
“I scanned it, noticed what it said and was speechless,” she said. “I said ‘yes’ and cried like all girls do.”
But on closer inspection, Goltz realized “marry” was a letter short.
“I thought it was so sweet that he spelled it wrong,” she said. “I thought it made it more cute and more special.”
Tragic confusion between “cute and more special” and “a clear sign to get out while the getting’s good”
Mueller’s father, Tom, twice used fieldwork to send romantic messages to his wife, Diane.
Compelling argument that compulsory neutering is sometimes justified
1. Would the story have been more interesting if Katie had responded to “KATIE WILL YOU MARY ME?” with “Chris, of course, I’ll say yes, but tell me — who wrote that? I bet it was Jim — right? He did tell me he loved me when we were out last night but I thought he was just happy that he got lucky with me. Was it Jim, Was it? Or Billy? Or … ”
2. Regardless of Katie’s feelings toward Chris (or Jim et al), what are the odds that, asked” “KATIE WILL YOU MARY ME,” while trapped in an airplane flown by someone who clearly can’t handle heavy equipment well enough to make room for two r’s in “marry,” she will say “No?”
3. (For men only) Wouldn’t the immediate response from any woman you ever dated have been “Who the hell is Mary?”